The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Men’s team increases depth

The Cal State Northridge men’s basketball team prepares for the 2007-2008 season with expectations of an improved team.

Head coach Bobby Braswell has high hopes for his team, which includes 12 new players and a handful of crucial changes in order to strengthen the team on and off the court.

“We wanted to make sure we had a culture here where players wanted to be successful, not only on the court but in the classroom,” Braswell said. “We also felt the point guard position was very critical. It probably wasn’t as good as it should have been the last couple of years, and so we scouted and recruited a couple of guys that we think are really a positive upgrade.”

Senior Rai Colston returns at the point guard position, joined by newcomers Paul Wayne and Josh Jenkins. Colston knows the Matador system, having played in all 31 games last season. Braswell is counting on Colston’s leadership qualities to play a major role in the team’s success.

Last year’s team did not shoot the ball well and struggled with turnovers and defense, said Braswell, but he feels his current roster has the ability to fill those holes.

The shooting guard position has been upgraded from last season, with junior Rob Haynes returning to the team. Haynes is a great outside shooter and his experience is a key factor. He has shot 42.5 percent from behind the three-point arc in two previous seasons at CSUN, ranking him fourth-best in school history and seventh best in the Big West last season.

The team has also added Deon Tresvant and Rodrigue Mels at the shooting guard position. Tresvant averaged 25 points per game last season at Long Beach City College, ranking him in the top 25 in scoring in the California state junior college ranks. He scored a record 63 points against L.A. Southwest College and also scored 48 points in a game twice and 46 points in a game once last season. He earned tournament MVP honors last season while leading Midland College in Texas to the National Junior College Championship. He led his team in an array of categories including scoring average (14.8), three-point field goals (77), and steals (70).

Braswell said the Matadors will boast a more athletic and talented frontline than last year. Senior forwards Jonathan Heard and Calvin Chitwood are regarded as two of the more talented players in the Big West Conference and both are three-year starters for the Matadors. Heard led the team in scoring last season at 13.5 points per game, and in steals with 44. He was also second on the team in rebounding with 5.5 rebounds per game, while receiving Honorable Mention Big West Honors last season. Chitwood finished second on the team in scoring with 13.2 points per game and third in rebounding with 4.9 rebounds per game. Senior forward Jayme Miller is another veteran whose leadership and experience will benefit the team, said Braswell He started in 13 games last season with his best coming against UC Riverside when he put up 16 points on 7-8 shooting from the floor. Junior forward Termaine Townsend, from Saddleback College in Mission Viejo earned all-state honors, as well as league MVP for his efforts in leading his team to the State Tournament Semifinals. He averaged close to 15 points and ten rebounds last season.

Other newcomers include, Jermaine Smith, a junior from Ohlone College in Freemont, junior Willie Galick, who transferred from Pepperdine University and will be forced to redshirt this season, Evan Scott, a redshirt freshman, Michael Lizarraga a freshman from Dixon, Calif., redshirt sophomore Tony Osunsanmi, freshman Xavier Reed and sophomore Therin Taylor.

Braswell likes the team’s depth this season.

“I think our strength is our depth,” Braswell said. “We are two or three deep in some positions and that way we can keep guys fresh and be competitive.”

Rebounding and defense are areas where the team has struggled in the past, Braswell said.

“We can score. We got guys who can create and we got guys that can knock the shot down” Braswell said. “I’m concerned about rebounding. You don’t win at this level without rebounding the basketball.”

The Matadors were ranked sixth in the Big West Conference Preseason Polls, but Braswell doesn’t seem to mind the underdog role.

“We’ve always been an underdog,” Braswell said. “But for the most part. we have risen to the occasion and surprised a lot of people. It’s a matter of getting the team to play well at the right time of the season.”

Every season the coaches schedule games against high- power opponents. The Matadors have had success against some of these nationally known teams, such as beating the UCLA Bruins in Westwood on Nov. 21, 2000, in what was probably Braswell’s biggest victory as the Matadors head coach. This year the team will face Washington and Gonzaga.

“We are excited about playing these teams,” Braswell said. “If you can play against Gonzaga in front of 10,000 people or against Washington in front of 10,000 people, that atmosphere will help you.”

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